The Clearing

DVD Reviews | Mar 4th, 2005

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Starring Robert Redford, Helen Mirren, Willem Dafoe, Matt Craven, Alessandro Nivola
Written By: Pieter Jan Brugge, Justin Haythe
Directed By: Pieter Jan Brugge
Studio: Fox
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The Clearing, the story of an executive taken hostage by a former, disgruntled employee. Turning in excellent performances are the stars of the film, Robert Redford, Helen Mirren, and Willem Dafoe.
“Ok, I got to scratch my ass, do you mind doing that for me? Take one for the team, come on! ”

Redford plays Wayne Hayes, the self-made tycoon, who started his business from the ground up and worked hard all his life to get to where he is. Dafoe plays Arnold Mack, a “normal” guy who just wakes up and goes to work everyday and seems to be quite a loser. Arnold has nothing going for him and just doesn’t seem to enjoy life. Living at home with both his wife and her father who is sick, he wants to get “out of dodge.” Arnold’s wife is an alcoholic and works in a crappy diner, and Arnold just wants her to stop working in places like that and be happy. Helen Mirren plays Robert Redford’s wife, Eileen Hayes. Mirren has one of the best performances in the movie. As Eileen, she must be distraught over the kidnapping of her husband and at the same time, appear to be strong and in control as she is questioned for the FBI investigation into the matter.

As the investigations go on, Wayne and Eileen’s marriage is picked and probed at, regarding their true love for one another. We learn that Wayne during the course of their marriage was having an affair with a co worker, and that his wife found out about it. Wayne supposedly ended it but according to the feds, that is not the case. It is interesting to see how well Eileen, Wayne’s wife, remains to keep her composure during the questioning. While the whole FBI investigation is on the kidnapping, Wayne must negotiate with Arnold for his life. Redford and Dafoe have great chemistry together and you really believe the characters and where they are coming from. Redford as anyone in that situation is pissed off and angry, but at the same time trying to be nice to Arnold. By discussing each other’s personal life, Wayne hopes Arnold will grow sympathetic towards his lifestyle and his family and let him go. You do see Arnold starting to care for Wayne but then he snaps back into his crazy delusional self. Arnold definitely has a loose screw somewhere. No one would care about a person’s feet by supplying running shoes for comfort and then shove a pistol in the guy’s face a second later. That just isn’t normal behavior. Wayne realizes this and must find a way to get out of the woods, where Arnold has taken him for the “exchange.” As the story continues, so does the tension of what will happen next, which I will not tell you. Go watch the movie, will you!

Extras on the disc were pretty minimal, including a few deleted scenes, full length commentary by director, editor and screenwriter, and last, you can view the full screen play.

Overall, the movie was very compelling with a great story and characters you don’t mind watching. I was kind of disappointed with the ending how it kind of abruptly changes but it holds up to the original story and leaves you on a down note. There I gave it away. If you can’t figure it out, oh well.

Director, Film Editor, and Screenwriter Commentary
Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
Fulln-Length Screenplay

ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 CC
SPANISH: Dolby Digital Surround
FRENCH: Dolby Digital Surround

Widescreen 1.85:1 Color (Anamorphic)


Favorite Scenes: Heart to Hear with Wayne & Arnold, The Escape
Rating: R
Running Time: 0 minutes
Extras Rating:
Overall Rating: